Cattle Health Problems
Cattle of all ages, and especially young, growing cattle are subject to a variety
of ailments. They range from mild conditions to severe infectious diseases that may cause death within 24
The cost of caring for sick cattle can seriously reduce your profit margin. With the
increasing need to cut production costs, good herd health care is very important for any beef operation.
Prevention is the easiest and
cheapest method of disease control. Clean sheds, lots, feed and water troughs give disease less chance to get
started. A sound vaccination program, parasite control, and frequent observation of the herd also help to reduce
the occurrence of illness.
You can recognize a sick animal first by its abnormal behavior or physical appearance.
Droopy ears, loss of appetite, head down, scouring (diarrhea), or inactivity may indicate illness. A high
temperature usually indicates disease.
The best course of action is to find a sick animal quickly, treat it, and then work to
eliminate the cause of the sickness. If one or two animals come down with a disease, the rest of the herd has been
or will be exposed to it.
Health problems are more common during and after periods of stress, including calving,
weaning, shipping, working or moving the cattle, and extreme weather conditions. Stress can reduce an animal's
ability to resist infectious agents. After a period of stress, give extra attention to your animals' health.
Some Common cattle problems
Respiratory diseases are common in cattle. A number of factors contribute to an outbreak:
inadequate nutrition, stress, and viral or bacterial infection. Good management and vaccination of cows and calves
is the best way to prevent outbreaks of respiratory disease. Your veterinarian or Extension agent can help you
develop a program to reduce losses on your ranch and in the feedlot.
White muscle disease
White muscle disease is a serious problem in
many areas, check with your veterinarian for your area. It is caused by a dietary deficiency of the trace mineral
selenium. It may cause paralysis of the skeletal muscles or may affect the heart muscle, causing respiratory
distress and death within a few hours.
If you are in an area where white muscle disease is likely to occur, supply adequate
amounts of selenium in the diet. In addition, injecting newborn calves with a commercial selenium/vitamin E
preparation is a short term solution. Your veterinarian can advise you regarding the incidence of disease in your
Brucellosis (Bang's disease)
Brucellosis is a serious disease. It
causes abortion and sterility in cattle, bison, elk, and deer, and undulant fever in humans.
Federal and state laws effectively outline brucellosis control. Vaccination is recommended for all heifers before
they are 12 months old.
Brucellosis most commonly enters a herd through the purchase of infected cattle. To help prevent brucellosis from
entering your herd, vaccinate all heifers between ages 4 to 10 months, and purchase only brucellosis-vaccinated